The Quick 10: 10 Mean Moms

It's almost Mother's Day, so of course everyone is talking about how great their moms are and what fabulous thing they can do to honor their moms. So I thought it would be a nice change of pace to talk about some notoriously crappy moms "“ mostly fictional, with two notable exceptions. Warning: Spoilers ahead!

carrie1. Margaret White, Carrie White's mother. You know, Carrie, the Stephen King character with telekinesis. If her fanatically religious mother hadn't been so whacked, maybe Carrie would have had a shot at a normal life. Instead, she scolded her and threw her in a closet to pray every time Carrie did something she considered "sinful," which was pretty much everything. No wonder Carrie ended up torching her high school and killing her mom.

2. Norma Bates, Norman Bates' mother. After her husband died, Norma raised her son by herself and raised him to believe that women were evil and slutty, unless they were mothers. The two of them became totally wrapped up in their own little world together until Norma met a guy and decided to remarry; Norman gets so jealous that he ends up killing them both and making it look like a suicide. Obviously he was a little warped after that and started wearing his mother's clothes and sharing half of his brain with her persona, but it's really Mrs. Bates' own fault. After all, a boy's best friend is his mother.

3. Pamela Voorhees, Jason Voorhees' mother. All of the best horror movie villains have mommy issues, don't they? Pamela was only 15 when she got pregnant with our favorite hockey masked murderer, and he apparently had water on the brain which caused some deformities. Not wanting him to be made fun of at school, she kept him at home to herself. She took a job at Camp Crystal Lake and brought Jason with her; he wandered into the lake one night to prove he could swim like the other kids could and "drowned." Pam was angry and blamed the counselors and killed a couple of them to exact her revenge, causing the camp to close. It reopened, so she poisoned the water and set some fires, leading to another closing. It reopens again and she kills seven more counselors. She finally meets her match and is decapitated by a particularly feisty counselor, but Jason, who has been alive the whole time, preserves her head and her body and makes a shrine to it. Good parenting, there.

serial4. Beverly Sutphin, Serial Mom. Beverly is so Stepford it's scary. When distressing yet normal things happen, Beverly takes her anger a bit too far "“ for instance, when her daughter gets stood up for a date, Bev slightly overreacts by impaling the would-be suitor with a fireplace poker. One of her son's teachers mentions at a parent-teacher conference that he may be a little too obsessed with horror movies, so Mrs. Sutphin flattens the teacher with her car. Repeatedly. She even bludgeons her neighbor to death with a leg of lamb. She is eventually caught and stands trial but is acquitted thanks to a series of mishaps and some careful planning by Beverly, but it doesn't stop her from killing again: when she sees one of the jurors wearing white shoes after Labor Day, she follows the woman out to a payphone and beats her to death with the phone receiver. Stacy and Clinton would not be proud.

5. Mel Jones, Coraline's mom. Well, Coraline's mom isn't that bad. She's just a little preoccupied and doesn't pay as much attention to her daughter as she should. It's Coraline's mother in an alternate universe "“ her Other Mother "“ that inspires nightmares. She seems like she's all butterflies and light, but that ends when she tells Coraline that she has to sew buttons over her eyes if she wants to continue living in the fun Other world. This is not what the Other Mother wanted to hear and she kind of loses it. Turns out she was responsible for the disappearance of at least three kids over the years; she kept them in her Other world and then locked them in a closet and let them starve to death when she got bored with them. That's a pretty mean mommy, indeed.

6. Olivia Foxworth and Corinne Dollanganger from Flowers in the Attic. This mother-daughter duo conspired to keep four children "“ Corinne's kids "“ locked in an attic for years. Olivia is played by Louise Fletcher, the lady who played Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, so you can imagine what a baddie the character is. Corinne has to hide her children because her father is on his deathbed and she won't receive her vast inheritance if he learns that she had children (she married her half-brother and her dad was kind of mad about that. Go figure), and her mother, Olivia, is all-too happy to help. It seems for a while that Olivia is the really rotten one "“ she starves them, pours hot tar on the eldest granddaughter's head because she feared her pretty blonde hair was making her too vain, and kicks the youngest child (among other things). But we learn that Corinne is the one who has been slowly poisoning her children by sprinkling arsenic in with the powdered sugar that tops the cookies they start mysteriously receiving. Yep, pretty sure that poisoning your children so you get to keep your inheritance lands you on the "Worst Moms Ever" list.

tremaine7. Cinderella's stepmother. I bent the rules a little bit, but it's hard to leave Lady Tremaine off of the list. You know the story: she marries Cinderella's dad, and when he dies, she turns Cinderelly into a scullery maid and refuses to acknowledge that she is anything resembling a daughter at all. It's one of the earliest "wicked stepmother" portrayals "“ not the Disney version, of course, but the Perrault fairytale.
8. Mrs. Wormwood, Matilda's mom. Roald Dahl knew how to write mean mothers as well: not only is Matilda's mom extremely dismissive and unimpressed by her child-prodigy daughter, it turns out one of the other characters in the book has a horrible mom as well: Matilda's teacher, Miss Honey, is really the pseudo-daughter of the horrible schoolmistress Miss Trunchbull, who tosses children around like she's competing in the shot put.

9. Joan Crawford is where we get to our exceptions I mentioned above. While Joan Crawford was a real person, obviously, the Joan Crawford depicted in Mommie Dearest may or may not have been exaggerated for the sake of entertainment. Christina Crawford would tell you it wasn't exaggerated at all, but some of Joan's other children and her friends say her temper has been embellished. Nonetheless, the Joan we see in the movie is ruthless and crazy, giving Christina's birthday toys away, chopping off her hair when she sees her wearing makeup, and beats her mercilessly with wire hangers.

10. Wanda Holloway, the alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom. Another real lady, this time portrayed in a made-for-TV movie starring Holly Hunter and Beau Bridges. In 1991, this woman from Channelview, Texas, had her brother-in-law hire a hitman to kill the mother of a girl competing for a spot on the cheerleading squad with her daughter. She figured that the girl would be so upset she wouldn't try out for the squad and her daughter would get the open position. The girls were 13 years old at the time.

What bad moms did I miss? I know there are lots of them out there "“ horror movies seem to teem with terrible parents. Share them in the comments!

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Feeling Down? Lifting Weights Can Lift Your Mood, Too
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There’s plenty of research that suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. In some cases of depression, in fact—particularly less-severe ones—scientists have found that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, which don’t work for everyone and can come with some annoying side effects. Previous studies have largely concentrated on aerobic exercise, like running, but new research shows that weight lifting can be a useful depression treatment, too.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by sports scientists at the University of Limerick in Ireland, examined the results of 33 previous clinical trials that analyzed a total of 1877 participants. It found that resistance training—lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing push ups, and any other exercises targeted at strengthening muscles rather than increasing heart rate—significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

This held true regardless of how healthy people were overall, how much of the exercises they were assigned to do, or how much stronger they got as a result. While the effect wasn’t as strong in blinded trials—where the assessors don’t know who is in the control group and who isn’t, as is the case in higher-quality studies—it was still notable. According to first author Brett Gordon, these trials showed a medium effect, while others showed a large effect, but both were statistically significant.

The studies in the paper all looked at the effects of these training regimes on people with mild to moderate depression, and the results might not translate to people with severe depression. Unfortunately, many of the studies analyzed didn’t include information on whether or not the patients were taking antidepressants, so the researchers weren’t able to determine what role medications might play in this. However, Gordon tells Mental Floss in an email that “the available evidence supports that [resistance training] may be an effective alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms that could be prescribed on its own and/or in conjunction with other depression treatments,” like therapy or medication.

There haven’t been a lot of studies yet comparing whether aerobic exercise or resistance training might be better at alleviating depressive symptoms, and future research might tackle that question. Even if one does turn out to be better than the other, though, it seems that just getting to the gym can make a big difference.

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